Cray Computer Awarded Department Of Energy Contract
October 12, 2011

Cray Computer Awarded Department Of Energy Contract

Cray Computer was awarded a $97 million contract by the Department of Energy´s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The contract will upgrade the lab´s current Cray XT5 computer, dubbed Jaguar, which runs at 2.3 million billion calculations per second (petaflops) into a new Cray XK6 with a peak calculation speed between 10 and 20 petaflops.

According to the news release, the new system, dubbed as Titan, will contain the latest AMD Opteron central processing units and NVIDIA Tesla graphics processing units (GPU), which improve the energy efficiency and accelerates specific types of calculations in scientific application codes.

The new AMD Opteron processors increase the number of cores from two six-core processors per node to one 16-core processor per node. This upgrade will increase the system to 299,008 cores and 600 terabytes of memory. This is plenty of power to run computations that will focus on DOE priorities in energy technology and science research.

The upgrade project director, Buddy Bland, said about the upgrade, “In the first phase of the upgrade, to begin this year, we will replace all of the processor boards, memory and system interconnect network in Jaguar with the new Cray XK6 processor board. This upgrade will also include approximately 1,000 current NVIDIA Tesla 20-series GPU´s.”

The second phase of the upgrade, to be done in the second half of 2012, the Tesla GPU´s will be added, increasing the performance to the proposed 10 to 20 petaflop performance.

According to the Wall Street Journal, GPU´s are increasingly being added alongside traditional computer processors, which help boost calculating performance and energy efficiency. The GPU accelerates number crunching functions and evolved from personal computing. These chips are dominating high-performance computing.

ORNL Director Thom Mason said in the new release, “All of these areas of science will benefit from Titan´s enormous increase in computational power. Titan will allow for significantly greater realism in models and simulations and the resulting scientific breakthroughs and technological innovations will provide the return on this national investment. Discoveries that take weeks even on a system as powerful as Jaguar might take days on Titan.”

The current Cray Jaguar in use by the ORNL is only the third fastest computer in the world. According to the Wall Street Journal one year ago a Chinese supercomputer topped the worlds 500 fastest computers in a twice-yearly ranking, setting off alarms about US competitiveness and national security. Then in June, a Japanese computer jumped to the top of the list for the first time since November 2004. This project should bring the US back to the top of the list as the leader in supercomputing.


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